[InSpectres] ZZZ Large Pest Control and the nanobots

edited November 2008 in Actual Play
I ran InSpectres for Karen and Robert today. Our concept was a mash-up of our InSpectres franchise and something like the TV show "Quantum Leap" with the Transcendental AIs from the game Sufficiently Advanced.

Our franchise (ZZZ Large Pest Control) was a front for our real job: prevent humans from obtaining or misusing alien technology. Like Sufficiently Advanced, the Transcendental AIs send us odd jobs from the future. Since they can only transmit messages, they pay us with stock tips, Lotto numbers, and the names of horses. Some paychecks are bigger than others.

The Franchise:

ZZZ Large Pest Control ("ZZZ... Put your large pest problems to rest.")
Library Card: 1
Gym Membership: 1
Corporate Gold Card: 3
The Bank: 1


Karen's character: 001010111001101 (aka "Helen")
Background: actually an alien, a silicon-based life form
Weird Ability: can interface with technology

Academics: 0
Athletics: 3
Technology: 6
Contact: 1

Robert's character:Tabasco Pete Campbell
Background: Temp Worker
Talent: Always on time

Academics: 3
Athletics: 2
Technology: 3
Contact: 1

My NPC: Todd
Position: Part-time van driver. His dad is the property manager of the office park.
Background: High school student
Talent: Has a car

Academics: 1
Athletics: 3
Technology: 2
Contact: 4


  • edited November 2008

    ZZZ Large Pest Control is located in a low-rent strip mall in Sunnyvale, CA. Neighboring businesses include a frozen yogurt park, Supercuts, and a Warhammer/baseball card hobby store. Todd's dad is the property manager.

    One Friday, Tabasco Pete answers the phone. He's surprised anyone called: the name "ZZZ Large Pest Control" was specifically chosen so as to be listed last in the phone book. A frantic city worker reports strange buzzing inside the air vents of the Sunnyvale Weights & Measures Office.

    Facing an actual pest job, everyone makes a Stress roll. Helen has a complete meltdown (and a Athletics-penalizing hangover). Helen is bummed with her work assignment on Earth, the backwater of this end of the universe. She also knows Earth will be destroyed in 20 years. Part of her job (whether Pete and Todd know it) is to ensure that humans do not obtain alien technology to prevent the Earth's destruction.

    The Sunnyvale Weights & Measures Office closes at 2:00 PM, so team must work after hours. Todd makes some good Athletics checks while crawling through the air vents. Helen "interfaces" with the office computers and, with a good Technology roll, decodes a message from the Transcendentals in a spam email. The buzzing pests are actually a nanobot swarm that must be quarantined.

    Pete preps his shop vac to suck up the nanobots, but realizes he needs some bait. He snipes some old Atari 2600 cartridges on eBay. His Technology check tells him that Pac-Man is deity of sorts for nanobots. Using a time travel shipping system, his eBay winnings will arrive the same day.

    Todd makes some driving skill checks while he rushes back to the office in the company van (with the famous sleeping bear logo: "ZZZ... Put your large pest problems to rest."). He returns to the Weights & Measures Office, Atari games in hand. Pete and Helen configure the shop vac and Pac-Man game. Todd crawls into air vents (again) to frighten the nanobots toward Pete and Helen. In the shop vac, Pete sucks the nanobots (and the Pac-Man game) into a "two-dimensional null holding device" (think Superman II).

    With her x-ray vision glasses, Helen learns that the nanobots have weakened the building's structural integrity. (The Transcendentals send the team future tech through ads in the back pages of comic books.) One 4-die Stress roll later and everyone's character is pretty much hosed. With some bad Athletics rolls, Todd succeeds but gets stuck in the vent. With a bad Stress roll, he becomes unhinged. Pete uses the shop vac to pull Todd out of the vent.

    Todd reports seeing a cavernous hole in the air vents, through the heart of the building deep into the Earth. Helen declares that the building must be demolished to destroy any trace of the nanobots and plug the hole. Todd uses his Contact skill to pull the proper building permits. His dad is not just an office property manager; he's also a small time mobster. His buddy "Viggy" shows up Saturday night with the permit and the explosives.

    The city's check bounces, but Todd kept the two-dimensional null holding device (with the nanobots). He frames it and hangs it in the ZZZ Large Pest Control office, pleased with himself.
  • The game was fun, but a learning experience.

    As GM, I was confused about the Stress rolls. I think I sent too much Stress too soon. The characters got knocked down, but the only rules about alleviating Stress I could find applied at the end of the job. During the job, I could only see that Cool dice could be used to alleviate Stress. Unfortunately, none of the characters had any! The characters could no longer do much, so I let them sleep off their Stress and come back the next day.

    The game also ended a bit soon and abruptly. The pace of our story did not follow the job dice very well, so we went into job dice overtime to wrap up the job story.

    Also, since our game had a sci-fi theme, Technology skill rolls were very popular. I think we only used Academics and Contact once each.
  • I've got some pointers in InSpace that address these very problems Chris. I should have it ready for human consumption soon...
  • I'd like to play a follow up game with a bit more hacking, especially to make the non-Technology stats more important.

    For other folks who've played InSpectres, how long does a job tend to last? Does a play session tend to involve multiple jobs building up in complexity/intensity?
  • Figures I miss the one time ChrisP actually runs something! Sounds like you guys had an interesting session.
  • There may be t-shirts for ZZZ Large Pest control soon, too :-)
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